Chris Botti

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There may be hope for jazz fusion after all. If there were no other evidence, trumpeter Chris Botti's terrific album would be enough to give hope to even the most jaded bebop snob. This is that rarest of things: a completely unchallenging record that is also richly rewarding. Botti's approach is lyrical but spare; the production is dark, warm, and rich. A sense of deep and quiet romanticism pervades everything, and while Botti never really lets loose and wails, he manages to make his chops obvious on tunes like "Cubism" and the funky "On the Night Ride." Most of the songs are powered by a gentle funk groove, and one even features a vocal cameo by Gen-X poster girl Edie Brickell. Jazz snobs will get sucked into this delicious music despite themselves; fans of Kenny G and Najee will think it's "real" jazz and consider themselves sophisticated for liking it so much. The bottom line is that there's no reason to do anything but abandon yourself to this album.

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